General Motors announced in a press conference at the Detroit Auto Show that South Korea’s LG Chem has been selected to supply the lithium-ion cells that will power the Chevy Volt. However, LG Chem and its U.S. subsidiary will not be supplying full packs to GM.
Instead, GM has decided to keep the pack production in-house along with the battery management systems and all the power electronics. The automaker will be building a pack assembly facility in Michigan, with LG Chem supplying the cells.
CEO Rick Wagoner also announced that a new battery lab will be built in Michigan. At 31,000 sq ft, the lab will be the largest advanced battery testing facility in the world.
According to Chevy Volt vehicle line executive Tony Posawatz, the lab will be located at GM’s Warren, MI tech center campus. When the lab is fully operational, the company intends to use it to provide testing capabilities for all advanced battery makers.
Posawatz has also said that any company that develops new cells will be able to bring them to GM for testing. GM will do a full evaluation on cells free of charge to manufacturer and provide all the test data back to the manufacturer. The intent is expand the knowledge base of advanced batteries as much as possible. In this way, GM hopes to help battery makers accelerate their development and therefore benefit from improved performance and reduced costs.
Along with the company’s intention to use its in-housed developed battery management systems, this will help GM develop battery technology as a core competency just as internal combustion engines have been for the past century.
The company also announced a new partnership with the University of Michigan to create the Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains (ABCD). ABCD will focus on researching batteries and integrating them into vehicles.